Starc out of first India Test Australia select four spinners in squad

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Mitchell Starc has been officially ruled out of the first Test against India in Nagpur but has been included in Australia’s 18-man touring squad for the four-Test series starting on Wednesday, which also includes uncapped Victoria offspinner Todd. There are four spin options including Murphy.
Starc suffered a finger tendon injury during the Boxing Day Test against South Africa and was ruled out of the third and final Test of the series in Sydney. Australia’s selectors on Wednesday confirmed that he will not be available for the first Test starting in Nagpur on February 9. Starc will not join the team before the second Test in Delhi. Cameron Green, who is recovering from a finger injury, will travel with the team ahead of the first Test.
Matthew Renshaw and Peter Handscomb have been included as backup batsmen, with Marcus Harris missing out on the tour. No backup wicketkeeper has been named in the squad, meaning Handscomb will be the only option to keep at short notice if Alex Carey suffers an injury.

Lance Morris has been retained in the squad and could be in contention to play in the first Test if Australia seek the extra pace of the ball in Nagpur while Starc is absent. Scott Boland also retained his place in the team as backup seamer after losing his place in Australia’s playing XI for the final Test against South Africa.

Chairman of selectors George Bailey said the four spinners give the team flexibility in terms of potential partners for Lyon.

“Ashton Agar has continued to impress since his return to Sydney and we believe the left-arm finger spin will play a vital role in the Indian conditions,” Bailey said.

“Mitchell Swepson has recent Test experience in the subcontinent and provides leg-spinning variety.

“Todd Murphy has made rapid strides by impressing in domestic cricket and more recently with Australia A. With those performances Todd has emerged as a strong spin option.

“Selection in this squad provides another opportunity to spend time with Nathan Lyon and assistant coach Daniel Vettori in India which will be invaluable to his development.”

Handscomb was included in Australia’s squad as cover during the Sydney Test after Harris was sent back to the BBL. Both Handscomb and Renshaw played in all four Tests on Australia’s last tour of India in 2017. Renshaw scored two half-centuries, while Handscomb played a match-saving knock of 72 not out from 200 balls in Ranchi. He has also been the leading run-scorer in Sheffield Shield cricket in the last two seasons.

Bailey said, ‘Peter Handscomb deserves to return to the team.’ “His domestic form has been strong recently and Pete has shown he can perform at Test level.

“His experience against spin in the subcontinent is valuable and he is also an exceptionally good close to wicket-taker.”

Handscomb suffered a hip fracture while batting for premiership club St Kilda in Victoria’s T20 Super Slam match on Tuesday night. He retired hurt but it is understood that the injury was minor and he will be fine to tour India.

Bailey also said that the selectors will review the squad after the second Test and may add additions as there is a seven-day break between the second Test in Delhi and the third Test in Dharamsala.

Australia squad for India tour: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Ashton Agar, Lance Morris, Mitchell Swepson Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb, Todd Murphy

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